I’ve finally decided to start rating and reviewing books based off of subjective enjoyment rather than objective goodness as I’ve read so many books this year that I loved purely because they hit so many of my niche interests, and this is definitely one of them. Therefore, this review is very biased, and I will almost definitely overlook some of the negatives of this book.
This book has often been described as Greek mythology meets The Hunger Games, and that is honestly the best summary of the story. Many years ago, nine Greek gods rebelled and were forced to walk the earth as mortals every seven years as a punishment. They are hunted down by the descendants of ancient bloodlines who want to obtain their power and immortality. Melora ‘Lore’ Perseous turned her back on gods and eternal glory as a child after her family were murdered by one of the rival bloodlines until a childhood friend and a gravely wounded goddess convince her to return the hunt for revenge.
I loved this book from the first chapter. I was very lost for the first few chapters – introducing hundreds of years of history and new terminology alongside the present-day life of a character with limited upfront backstory was a touch overwhelming – but things were soon explained in addition to steadily adding to the history throughout. Here is a quote that summarises things nicely in one of the early chapters:
They sat in silence for several minutes after Lore had finished giving Miles a ruthlessly pared-down explanation of the Agon, the nine gods it had been created to punish—including the one whose wound she had seared shut in their living room—and the nine bloodlines descended from ancient heroes chosen to hunt them.
She distilled over a thousand years of history into mere minutes, feeling more and more insane as his face remained carefully blank. It wasn’t like Lore could blame him; hearing herself say the words “For seven days, every seven years, the gods walk on earth as mortals. If you can kill one, you become a new god and take their power and immortality, but you’ll be hunted in the next Agon as well”
At its heart, the Agon is a competition, and this is a trope that I’m starting to fall back in love with (hello, The Hunger Games). The constant danger keeps the characters on the move and thrown into action to fear for their lives so there is plenty of intrigue to keep me interested and wanting more.
Lore is a character who is simultaneously strong and vulnerable and balances those two traits well. Her past is slowly revealed through flashback chapters focusing on her childhood and the end of the last Agon. In the current Agon, she doesn’t want the power or immortality that comes with killing a god, but she does want her family avenged, and the killer is a new god with a powerful bloodline. I loved reading her character development over the course of the book: she evolved from a damaged soul clinging onto revenge for a dark childhood to someone who was a true force to be reckoned with. I also loved the friendships and their development throughout this book and this friend group dynamic alongside contrasting personalities and backstories was great to read.
One scene that stood out to me for different reasons than the rest (it was a moment to take a breath between the action) is a conversation between Lore and Athena, discussing strong women who were often forgotten and excluded from Greek lore, and even the ones who were remembered but had their stories twisted (my beloved Medusa). Bringing in strong feminist themes in a book with such a wide representation of strong women was beautiful.
This review is starting to get long, so I’ll end it here. Pros of the book: hits all of my special interests and the ending was perfect for such complex plotlines. Cons: sometimes takes a little too long to reveal information.
Rating: ★★★★★ (4.5 stars)